1091. Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~Desmond Tutu

We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
~Emily Dickinson

It has been my privilege to meet some incredible people through my blog. They are people I never knew to ask God for, but He has given them to me anyway. When I asked Him why He blessed me with their presence in my life, He let me know that it’s because they can fill my life in ways that no one else can. And it’s true. From places all over the globe they are the candles in my darknesses and the birds of hope that perch atop my soul when my days grow dark and I find myself in the “chillest” of lands and on the “strangest” of seas.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. ~Psalm 62:5  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1039. Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan. ~Albert Schweitzer

Oh to relive
those Old Sundays,
those sacred things…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

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My faith journey began long ago at a time when I was young enough that all I knew was unmarred innocence, youthful unawareness, and blind acceptance of what I’d been told and taught. In handmade, starched and often white organdy dresses and on feet in meticulously polished white shoes I’d enter with my family, as I’d been taught, solemnly and quietly into church buildings with their tall steeples and large, sonorous bells that called the masses to worship. Inside there was the unmistakable aroma of old wooden pews, time-worn Bibles, and tattered hymnals that spoke of countless others who had come before us to worship. And because it was a time of greater formality, we were greeted at the doors by ushers in dark suits wearing white carnations in their lapels; these men and/or women would hand us freshly printed programs as they led us down the aisle to a pew with red velvet cushions, cushions that had seen many a day and been sat on by a multitude of churchgoers. Somewhere along the way to our seats, I would encounter an image of the Christ who was portrayed as a man with soft brown hair and a sweet face. When all who had heeded the call to worship were seated, the acolytes would march in under gothic arches carrying state and national flags in the glow of blue, red, green, and yellow light streaming through the stained-glass windows. On their heels came the choir and the robed pastoral staff. Once everyone was in place, choral voices led us in songs before we were implored to make affirmations of faith and recite the Lord’s prayer. Then came the giving of tithes in gold offertory plates, before we drank from silver chalices filled with the “Blood of Christ” and took from a silver plate the bread wafer that symbolized the “Body of Christ.” All the while these sacred things were taking place, a large pipe organ played softly in the background behind flickering candles and pretty flowers on altars covered in sacramental cloths. Finally by the time all was said and done within the hallowed gray, stone walls, we had sung a number of old familiar hymns, shouted amens, listened to a tutorial sermon, bowed our heads for the holy benedictions, read words of Scripture, raised our arms and voices in praise, and prayed for friends and neighbors as well as the hungry and the needy. And all of it was fervently carried out in hopes that God, was then and would always be with us, listen to our pleas, and answer our prayers.

Sadly at a church after we moved here I witnessed such widespread hypocrisy and intolerant prejudice by clergy and church members alike that I stopped going to church and turned away from Lord and His teachings at the age of 19.  However, the Good Shepherd would not let go of that which was rightfully His and so He pursued me for the next two decades as He does all of His wandering and lost “sheep” until one day I turned to listen to His voice again. Soon afterwards I chose to walk back into a church, and fortunately it was one where sincere sanctity appeared to be palpable and devout holiness seemed to permeate all that and who had gathered to honor and consecrate the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ. It felt like home and I knew I was home. As sentient beings, everything we encounter evokes some kind of emotional response from us which affects both flesh and psyche. So powerful and evocative are such experiences sometimes that there have been people who are healed of life-threatening diseases by constantly picturing themselves in times and places of the past wherein they were happy and well and sensed the presence of the Almighty.

Experience life in all possible ways –
good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter.
Experience all the dualities.
Don’t be afraid of experience,
because the more experience you have,
the more mature you become.

The sacred pathway is
not hard, children
know it…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

…if I(Paul) am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. ~1 Timothy 3:15-16  ✝

**All but one image via Pinterest; collage by Natalie, and one photo of Natalie

1027. Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with beauty of sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage. ~Thomas Kincade

Many miles away there’s a shadow
on the door of a cottage
on the Shore of a dark Scottish lake.
~Sir Walter Scott

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Let there be a cottage….a real cottage…a white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all the months of spring, summer, and autumn—beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine. Let it, however, not be spring, nor summer, nor autumn—but winter, in his sternest shape. This is a most important point in the science of happiness. And I am surprised to see people overlook it, and think it matter of congratulation that winter is going; or, if coming, is not likely to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us. Surely every body is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a winter fire-side: candles at four o’clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without… ~Thomas De Quincey

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Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars… ~Psalm 148:7-9   ✝

**Images via Pinterest

586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling and
partaking of the wassail.
~Adapted excerpt from Susan Cooper

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~by Unknown Author

The word “wassail” is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon “wel hal” which means “be healthy.” The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase as an everyday greeting. “Waes” is a form of the verb “to be.” “Hal” is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, “waes hal” literally meant “Be healthy.”

The Vikings who later settled in Northern England used a variant of the same phrase, “Ves heill.” Since the Anglo-Saxons and Norse shared a custom of welcoming guests by presenting them with a horn of ale, a cup of mead, or a goblet of wine, the greeting evolved into a toast.

The phrase eventually evolved into the single word that we know today as “wassail.” The use of “wassailing” to mean “caroling” very likely descended from the custom of singing songs while drinking from the wassail bowl during the Christmas holidays.

Cranberry Wassail
1 gallon ocean spray cranberry juice
5 cups apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp allspice (whole)
1 medium sized orange sliced
20 whole cloves

Combine cranberry juice cocktail, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a large pot. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Serve warm in a heat proof punch bowl or chill and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 42 4-ounce servings.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and day and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:13-15   ✝

** Image via Pinterest